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So That's Who All Those People Running Around My Home Are

A family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.

That’s the belief of “a majority of Americans” who now include the above in their definition of family, according to a study by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.

The New York Times has a recent piece about the study and Powell’s new book, Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family. The book’s conclusion, as stated by the NYT, is that “Framing the equality of same-sex couples in terms of ‘the best interests of the child’ might prove to be a more successful political argument than others.” I’ve long argued the same.

Indeed, the article also quoted David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and witness for the defense in the Prop 8 case, who told the paper, “I like the standard definition of family: two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption.” Interesting that he didn’t use the “one man-one woman” definition. Combine this with his statement during the Prop 8 trial that “I believe that adopting same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children,” and it’s no wonder the ultra-right is finding it harder and harder to come up with witnesses to support their positions. Even their “experts” seem to be moving towards equality.

More troubling (although believable) is Powell’s finding that “most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family—unless they have children.” While that may also be a reason to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it seems unfair to exclude couples who do not, for whatever reason, wed or have kids. My opinion? A family should be defined by those who are in it.

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Tags: blankenhorn, brian, david, gay, glbt, lesbian, lgbt, powell

Comment by Mamawho on September 16, 2010 at 4:29am
Also left out are kids being raised by grandparents. If the parents have split, as mine did, the grandparents are left in a terrible situation - either track down their own child to gain custody from them, which may not work or may expose their child to legal charges or raise a child without being able to enroll them in school or gain medical treatment. It's why I went to private school and my doctor was an old family friend.
Comment by mcglory13 on September 17, 2010 at 6:23am
I can understand the sticking point on unmarried people living together being family from an emotional standpoint. People get caught up in permanence. Is this permament? How hard would it be for these people to walk away from each other? I think that's why gay families are so much easier, everybody assumes it is really damn hard to walk away from kids. Intellectually, I don't think it's much of an argument. Married straight people bust up everyday, parents do abandon their children. Those people are still considered family. But from an emotional standpoint I can see why they hesitate.
Comment by mcglory13 on September 17, 2010 at 6:24am
unmarried childless people, I should clarify.


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